Russia should not interfere in India-China standoff as it is bilateral matter: Top Russian lawmaker
New Delhi, Jun 10: Russia should not interfere in disputes like the current border standoff between India and China, but its mission is to be an "honest broker" to prevent any use of military force, the chair of the Russian Upper House's foreign affairs committee said on Wednesday.
Konstantin Kosachev, the Chair of Russia's Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, also said US President Donald Trump's move to select Russia, India, Australia and South Korea for inviting to an upcoming G7 summit was aimed at targeting China.
Interacting from Moscow with a group of Indian journalists here via video conferencing, Kosachev said Russia has asked for explanations from the US over Trump's statement extending the G7 invitation to the four countries, but is yet to receive a response. Therefore, a final decision cannot be taken, he said. Hitting out at the West and the US for continuing with policies of weakening competitors, Kosachev also said the Cold War was not over yet and it was continuing with fair competition not being allowed at the global stage.
Asked about the current border standoff between Indian and Chinese militaries in Eastern Ladakh, he said Russia's official position is that it keeps these bilateral disputes bilateral. "We understand the sovereignty of India, we understand the sovereignty of China. I really believe Russia should not interfere in these kinds of disputes, but our role is well required in many other situations comparable to the one you mentioned," he said in response to a question on the ongoing standoff.
"Our mission is to be an honest broker to contribute to a dialogue and to prevent and avoid any solutions connected with the use of military force. This is what we all the time transfer as political messages both to our Chinese and Indian friends," said Kosachev, who plays an influential role in the formulation on Russia's foreign policy.
The senior Russian lawmaker also said his country's relations with China are in the "best shape ever" in the history of their relations in many decades. "We have excellent relations. I believe the anti-Russian campaign in the West has additionally contributed to closer relations between Russia and China. I would like to stress that our bilateral relations are never aimed against any other country," he said when asked about Moscow, having good relations with both Beijing and New Delhi, could play a role in the China-India standoff. He stressed that the problems between India and China are never allowed to hamper cooperation in the BRICS and SCO groupings.
"Good relations between Russia and China and good relationship between Russia and India are two factors which provide a good opportunity for finding solutions to problems that exist between China and India," he said.
His remarks come a day after it emerged that Indian and Chinese armies have undertaken a "symbolic disengagement" in a few areas in eastern Ladakh in a demonstration of their intent to end the border standoff peacefully. However, sources had said both the armies remained engaged in aggressive posturing in areas such as Pangong Tso, Daulat Beg Oldie and Demchok, and there will be a series of negotiations in the next few days to explore a solution to end the confrontation.
Last week, Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin had said Russia hopes that India and China will resolve the dispute soon, noting that a "constructive" relationship between the two countries was important for regional stability.
Asked about US President Trump's pitch last week for expansion of the G7 grouping by including India, Russia, Australia and South Korea, Kosachev said the US President did not hide his disappointment with the current G7 format, but the problem is that he does not have the right to extend the format.
"He (Trump) just represents a country which is hosting the coming summit G7 and in that capacity he is absolutely free to invite any additional participants to that summit but that summit will still be the summit of 7 countries," Kosachev said. "This is what raises questions. In that format, neither India, South Korea Russia, nor Australia will be able to participate in the preparatory work. There will be resolutions and documents and that is going to be done by the same seven countries," he said.
There is no possibility to influence the outcome of the discussions and decisions taken, he asserted. Kosachev said there was no unity in the position of other countries of G7 with countries such as the UK and Canada expressing reservations about Russia. The composition of countries to be invited excludes many more countries which are influential and China is a quite clear example, Kosachev said.
"Mr Trump wants to get a number of countries together in order get a kind of a joint opposition to China, this is the current strategy of the Americans. I am absolutely against building any blocs or coalitions aimed against a third country," he said.
On a question on India's participation in the Afghan peace process and the issue of involvement of the Taliban, he said in Russia, the Taliban is classified as an extremist movement, but is not prohibited and it has to be recognised that it is an important part in the ongoing peace dialogue. "India is a neighbouring state to Afghanistan and I am absolutely in favour of having India has an important participant in the ongoing dialogue. I would recommend Russia to take efforts to involve India as much as possible," he said.